In her introduction Eleanore Price Mather notes that this essay on personal and collective guilt, outlines the essentials of Christian truth in the light of modern psychology. In it Dr. Ockel, discarding the language of theology, leads us back into the world of fairy tale and myth. We also meet ourselves and our mistakes. But this is not so painful an experience as one might expect, for with all his analytical discernment Dr. Ockel has a warm and understanding optimism which discovers in the seeming disaster of guilt an aid to the spirit’s progress.
A medical doctor, Gerhard Ockel became a Quaker in Germany in the 1920s. He became considerably influenced by his knowledge of depth psychology, which he felt substantiated the Quaker approach. The fusion of spiritual faith and psychological insight seemed to him of extreme importance, and he applied it not only to his professional work as doctor and psychotherapist but to the relief project which he initiated in Frankfurt after the second World War. In 1945, together with others concerned with the physical and spiritual need of the stricken inhabitants, he founded the Friends’ Service Fellowship of Frankfurt.
A key observation of this essay is that “Guilt is part of the larger problem of good and evil, of sin and redemption. It is specifically religious. We cannot determine satisfactorily our responsibility toward our fellow men if we do not at the same time examine our relationship to God, and if we do not perceive clearly the laws laid down by Him as a basis for human fellowship.”